The Breath Eaters


Custom software (color, silent)
Edition of 5, 1 AP

In collaboration with James Schmitz

The Breath Eaters is an animated, custom software work that visualizes CO2 pollutants and other greenhouse gasses produced by wildfire and fossil fuel plant emissions. Inspired by a Midjourney image of a world map and presented as a live, three-channel
generative composition, the work demonstrates how particulate pollution is carried into the high atmosphere and across the globe on currents of wind. The Breath Eaters broadcasts real-time data from NASA’s fire detection systems, World Resources Institute’s global fossil fuel power plant database, and NOAA’s global forecast system. Zurkow expands on the notion of visualizing global emissions, writing “If carbon has been extracted and liberated to roam the globe on the winds, why is the world of beings (human, plant, animal) constrained by national boundaries, walled in and walled out? It is our hope that a near-live data stream of pollution’s transnationalism will give rise to empathy in viewers—this map can look very different with planetary action.” As the triptych globe turns within the gallery, visitors witness an immediate impression of global particulate pollution.